Style Cowhide Rugs In 5 Different Ways – See It Now – Lonny Magazine

Photographed by Maria del Rio.

Whether you think of a rug as a starting point or a finishing touch, there’s no denying its power to transform a room. One of our favorite styles that can work in a variety of spaces? Cowhide rugs. It truly is a jack-of-all-trades. Layer a faux cowhide rug over a classic woven sisal, for instance, and a traditional space feels infinitely chicer. On its own, a cowhide rug could be the subtle dose of pattern you need to round out otherwise busy or eclectic decor.

In other words, every well-dressed room needs a rug. It serves a grounding stylish addition, while also providing texture and warmth to your floors. Not only are they a trendy and easy stand-in for a full-out reno, but a faux cowhide may be an easier way to incorporate one than you think.

A hot home-decor ticket in Argentina and originally fashioned out of cured cow skin (hence the name), modern and more humane versions of the cowhide rug are typically made of polyester with a suede backing underneath, and patterns that are either acid washed, natural, or stenciled. The big draw of the cowhide has been how durable it is (spotted versions are fantastic at camouflaging stains), but its low profile and wide-ranging colors and patterns mean it also blends seamlessly with any decor style. Yes, that even means the most minimalist spaces.

To prove it, we’ve rounded up five rooms that fit a variety of decor aesthetics that use a cowhide rug as its centerpiece. From a Hollywood Regency-style living room that is grounded with a neutral hue to a colorful entry stairway lined with a funky cowhide runner, this design proves its flexibility and durability.

The look may be distinct, but few rugs prove to be as versatile. Behold, the case for the cowhide:

Style Cowhide Rugs In 5 Different Ways

Photographed by Becky Kimball.

Eclectic

A zebra-print cowhide runner lines the stairway in the entryway of BURU founder Morgan Hutchinson’s Salt Lake City abode. Hutchinson, who runs the e-commerce site with her husband, Brett, mused on her home’s perfect pattern clash in a chat with Lonny. “Color makes me happy,” she says. “I would like to think it also makes my family and guests happy when they are in the space. My dream word for others to describe our house would be just that — HAPPY.”

Hutchinson describes it as a box of Skittles; we like call it eclecticism 101.

Back in the entryway, an equally graphic ikat rug is a surprising complement to the cowhide runner, while a balloon display ups the liveliness even further.

Style Cowhide Rugs In 5 Different Ways

Photographed by Ball & Albanese.

Beach House

Pop art and a sofa upholstered in a classic ticking stripe already feel like an unexpected combination, but fashion photographer Ben Watts threw a steamer trunk and a cowhide rug into the mix of his living room decor. Throughout the beach house in Montauk, New York, industrial flourishes serve as a counterpoint (and, no doubt, a topic of conversation) to the home’s more New England-style elements.

According to Hamptons Magazine, Watt’s collaborated with interior designer Staci Dover to furnish the house with classic pieces that would stand the test of time (oh hey, cowhide), later punching it up with his own collection of art and accents. Among them: A hot pink boom box, Day of the Dead-inspired works, and his own photographs, of course.

Style Cowhide Rugs In 5 Different Ways

Photographed by Jenna Peffley.

Traditional

How do you pull together splashy pieces like a Vladimir Kagan floating sofa, vintage chairs from Arredamenti Corallo, and a painting by Danvy Pham? Gather them around a black and white cowhide rug as Bare Collection’s Jeet Sohal did inside her Hancock Park home.

The rug’s colorway feels just as classic as the home’s formal features — think: wood panelling, gold-painted molding, and leaded glass windows — while giving the living room a little edge. While pops of mint, purple, and red bring the space into an eclectic palette, the natural rug ties it all together.

In fact, Sohal, who decorated the home herself, managed to strike the perfect balance between stately design and modern approachability, and she says she kept it all cohesive by using a bold color palette throughout the house.

Style Cowhide Rugs In 5 Different Ways

Photographed by Genevieve Garruppo.

Minimalist Meets Scandinavian

For some it’s considered minimalist, for others it’s bohemian Scandinavian. What’s indisputable is how this bedroom’s bone cowhide rug anchors this space.

“We wanted it to feel like the best parts of Venice — easy, livable, and casual,” designer Leanne Ford says of the California home she outfitted for fashion designer Amber Farr, founder of Ruby Skye.

All-white walls created a dreamy backdrop for Ford to layer on all the texture. Ford says this is the secret to a minimalist home with personality. “You don’t have to have much in your home for it to feel warm,” she shares. “The key is woods, stones, cozy textures, and shades of white for all of that to shine off of.” The result is a dreamy space perfect for cozying up at the end of the day.

Style Cowhide Rugs In 5 Different Ways

Photographed by Winnie Au.

Modern

It’s hard to imagine anything but the black-and-white zebra rug Victoria De La Fuente chose as the centerpiece of her West Village living room. But in actuality, any variation of a cowhide rug would work alongside the clean-lined furniture and millennial  pink walls throughout the cozy apartment.

Blending contemporary artwork with a few mid-century modern flourishes and loads of girly accents, De La Fuente says her home is an extension of her personality.

One other influence that helps tie the look together? Travel. “Having lived in over seven different cities [over the years], I try to get something local at every place I live at or visit,” she says. Thankfully, cowhides are also easy to tuck away into a spare suitcase.

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5 Ways To Use Cowhide Rugs — No Matter Your Decor Style – Lonny Magazine

Photographed by Maria del Rio.

Whether you think of a rug as a starting point or a finishing touch, there’s no denying its power to transform a room. One of our favorite styles that can work in a variety of spaces? Cowhide rugs. It truly is a jack-of-all-trades. Layer a faux cowhide rug over a classic woven sisal, for instance, and a traditional space feels infinitely chicer. On its own, a cowhide rug could be the subtle dose of pattern you need to round out otherwise busy or eclectic decor.

In other words, every well-dressed room needs a rug. It serves a grounding stylish addition, while also providing texture and warmth to your floors. Not only are they a trendy and easy stand-in for a full-out reno, but a faux cowhide may be an easier way to incorporate one than you think.

A hot home-decor ticket in Argentina and originally fashioned out of cured cow skin (hence the name), modern and more humane versions of the cowhide rug are typically made of polyester with a suede backing underneath, and patterns that are either acid washed, natural, or stenciled. The big draw of the cowhide has been how durable it is (spotted versions are fantastic at camouflaging stains), but its low profile and wide-ranging colors and patterns mean it also blends seamlessly with any decor style. Yes, that even means the most minimalist spaces.

To prove it, we’ve rounded up five rooms that fit a variety of decor aesthetics that use a cowhide rug as its centerpiece. From a Hollywood Regency-style living room that is grounded with a neutral hue to a colorful entry stairway lined with a funky cowhide runner, this design proves its flexibility and durability.

The look may be distinct, but few rugs prove to be as versatile. Behold, the case for the cowhide:

Style Cowhide Rugs In 5 Different Ways

Photographed by Becky Kimball.

Eclectic

A zebra-print cowhide runner lines the stairway in the entryway of BURU founder Morgan Hutchinson’s Salt Lake City abode. Hutchinson, who runs the e-commerce site with her husband, Brett, mused on her home’s perfect pattern clash in a chat with Lonny. “Color makes me happy,” she says. “I would like to think it also makes my family and guests happy when they are in the space. My dream word for others to describe our house would be just that — HAPPY.”

Hutchinson describes it as a box of Skittles; we like call it eclecticism 101.

Back in the entryway, an equally graphic ikat rug is a surprising complement to the cowhide runner, while a balloon display ups the liveliness even further.

Style Cowhide Rugs In 5 Different Ways

Photographed by Ball & Albanese.

Beach House

Pop art and a sofa upholstered in a classic ticking stripe already feel like an unexpected combination, but fashion photographer Ben Watts threw a steamer trunk and a cowhide rug into the mix of his living room decor. Throughout the beach house in Montauk, New York, industrial flourishes serve as a counterpoint (and, no doubt, a topic of conversation) to the home’s more New England-style elements.

According to Hamptons Magazine, Watt’s collaborated with interior designer Staci Dover to furnish the house with classic pieces that would stand the test of time (oh hey, cowhide), later punching it up with his own collection of art and accents. Among them: A hot pink boom box, Day of the Dead-inspired works, and his own photographs, of course.

Style Cowhide Rugs In 5 Different Ways

Photographed by Jenna Peffley.

Traditional

How do you pull together splashy pieces like a Vladimir Kagan floating sofa, vintage chairs from Arredamenti Corallo, and a painting by Danvy Pham? Gather them around a black and white cowhide rug as Bare Collection’s Jeet Sohal did inside her Hancock Park home.

The rug’s colorway feels just as classic as the home’s formal features — think: wood panelling, gold-painted molding, and leaded glass windows — while giving the living room a little edge. While pops of mint, purple, and red bring the space into an eclectic palette, the natural rug ties it all together.

In fact, Sohal, who decorated the home herself, managed to strike the perfect balance between stately design and modern approachability, and she says she kept it all cohesive by using a bold color palette throughout the house.

Style Cowhide Rugs In 5 Different Ways

Photographed by Genevieve Garruppo.

Minimalist Meets Scandinavian

For some it’s considered minimalist, for others it’s bohemian Scandinavian. What’s indisputable is how this bedroom’s bone cowhide rug anchors this space.

“We wanted it to feel like the best parts of Venice — easy, livable, and casual,” designer Leanne Ford says of the California home she outfitted for fashion designer Amber Farr, founder of Ruby Skye.

All-white walls created a dreamy backdrop for Ford to layer on all the texture. Ford says this is the secret to a minimalist home with personality. “You don’t have to have much in your home for it to feel warm,” she shares. “The key is woods, stones, cozy textures, and shades of white for all of that to shine off of.” The result is a dreamy space perfect for cozying up at the end of the day.

Style Cowhide Rugs In 5 Different Ways

Photographed by Winnie Au.

Modern

It’s hard to imagine anything but the black-and-white zebra rug Victoria De La Fuente chose as the centerpiece of her West Village living room. But in actuality, any variation of a cowhide rug would work alongside the clean-lined furniture and millennial  pink walls throughout the cozy apartment.

Blending contemporary artwork with a few mid-century modern flourishes and loads of girly accents, De La Fuente says her home is an extension of her personality.

One other influence that helps tie the look together? Travel. “Having lived in over seven different cities [over the years], I try to get something local at every place I live at or visit,” she says. Thankfully, cowhides are also easy to tuck away into a spare suitcase.

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Rug Report: Creature(-free) comforts are popular – Home Accents Today (press release) (blog)

Creature DomadaDomada’s cowhide rug

Without sacrificing good taste, area rugs are joining the list of vegan goods.

No animal products or byproducts used here.

“We’re capitalizing on cow-friendly hides,” said Blake Dennard, senior vice president of Kaleen Rugs. “Our new Chaps Collection answers to the growing population on the vegan side.”

Chaps, which Kaleen launched at the October High Point Market, is a collection of replica cowhides handmade in India of viscose and wool.

“No cowhides were used in the making of this product,” the company emphasized.

The same is true for Kas Rugs’ new indoor-outdoor selection of animal-inspired rugs. The Provo

Creature Capel SafariCapel Rugs Safari Leopard

Collection encompasses textured machine-woven rugs made of UV-treated polypropylene in a variety of spotted skin patterns.

“Our new Provo Collection has some animal inspiration behind it,” said Brianne Coradini, Kas Rugs’ marketing associate. “Faux animal designs are still a hot trend that is not going away. We [weren’t] offering any animal patterned outdoor rugs, so Provo [now] rounds out our assortment perfectly.”

Capel Rugs’ Luxe Shag collection of animal looks presents “a new take on shags” with its longer acrylic/polyester fibers. Plus, they “can even be cut into a pelt shape,” according to Cameron Capel, president of sales and marketing.

The company has several other species of animal-friendly rugs, like the machine-made Leopard that is based on a textile design by Kevin O’Brien, a licensee of Capel Rugs for the past eight years.

Animal prints, O’Brien said, “connect with us on several levels. Even though they have a practical purpose for the animal, they are naturally elegant and by definition perfect.”

He continued: “In our DNA, there is a connection to the wild origins of our own species and the wildness still very much present in these animals. We revere the primal nature of these beautiful animals and know that we are not really that far removed from them.”

For her latest introduction with Loloi Rugs, designer Justina Blakeney of “Jungalow” fame dreamed up a contemporary faux-tiger series in both native and exotic colorways. Ironically named Feroz, which means fierce in Spanish, this tame version of animal skin is hand-loomed by artisans in India and then feline formed.

Creature loloi verticalFeroz by Justina Blakeney x Loloi

Blakeney said the idea for Feroz came from an antique Tibetan prayer rug found at a flea market.

“I researched the history of these prayer rugs and learned that they tell a rich story of Tibetan culture and are full of Buddhist symbolism. They are traditionally on the smaller side and can be prohibitively expensive,” she said. “I wanted to put my own spin on them while paying homage to their Tibetan roots. My reinterpretation is a larger scale rug made of 100% wool and is a fanciful depiction of a tiger — an animal I love.”

Domada is a newcomer to the upscale rug industry, paving its path with a niche business: cowhide-shaped vintage rugs.

Launched earlier this year as an e-commerce business and now expanding into wholesale, Domada sources its products from Morocco, India and Turkey, with more countries currently being explored. Most of its rugs average about 70 years old and feature a range of classic and traditional Oriental designs, and many are one-of-a-kind.

“I want my pieces to be unusual. I look through thousands and thousands of rugs looking for special pieces,” founder Katherine Stevens said. “Hides bring an organic sense to spaces, but many responsive to this aesthetic shy away from them out of respect for the natural world,” Stevens said. “Conscious consumers are driving design away from doing harm, and our fusion of traditional, ethnic rugs with hide and skin shapes speaks perfectly to this market. Domada is proud to offer its cruelty-free collection. I love that we can make something special that feels organic but doesn’t harm any animals.”

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Palm leather rugs are vegan alternative to cow hide – Dezeen

Dutch designer Tjeerd Veenhoven’s rugs made from a palm leaf material, called palm leather, are a sustainable and vegan alternative to traditional leather made from animal skin.


For the range of rugs, thin strips of the material are laid end to end by hand and attached to a woven base, before being cut to size. Any inconsistencies or folds in the strips are left to give a patterned appearance to the finished rug.

Palm leather rugs by Tjeerd Veenhoven offer a vegan alternative to cow hide

Dutch designer Veenhoven first started experimenting with leather made from palm leaves eight years ago after he became interested in the natural fibres of the tree’s leaves, and asked someone he knew in India to send him some so that he could research them.

“In my material research I found out that the material was super brittle and not very useful, but if you soften it with a special material of glycerin and water, and some other materials you can make it nice and soft,” explained Veenhoven.

Palm leather rugs by Tjeerd Veenhoven offer a vegan alternative to cow hide

The designer and his studio then developed and refined the “leather” further, testing it out by making products with various companies. Initially he experimented with making the rugs in Holland, before testing out production at a factory in India.

The rugs are now made at a factory in the Dominican Republic where “they’re experienced with green initiatives, so they have the necessary quality controls in place,” and shipped directly to consumers.

As well as the rugs, the studio is hoping to sell the palm leather material as a product in its own right. There has been a lot of recent interest from the “extremely demanding” automotive companies who have recently become increasingly interested in vegan alternatives to leather car interiors.

Veenhoven explained that how palm leather has been perceived has changed over the years, from an initial interest in its potential use as an alternative to man-made leather substitutes, to the current spike in interest as a vegan material.

Palm leather rugs by Tjeerd Veenhoven offer a vegan alternative to cow hide

“It first was seen much more as a potential replacement of leather-like materials, or neoprenes or plastics – that was the first hook for people,” he told Dezeen.

“Then it was a little bit connected to re-inventing craft, which has also been a topic of discussion, how can we make craftsmen more contemporary, and interestingly in the last two years it’s been about it being vegan,” he explained.

Palm leather rugs by Tjeerd Veenhoven offer a vegan alternative to cow hide

The move towards eating vegan and buying vegan products for the home, Veenhoven suggests, has been pushed by real problems that the world faces including the need to reduce the amount of meat that we eat.

“We have to focus more on plant-based systems and we have to encourage them more because they are essential to our livelihoods,” said Veenhoven, who experiments with many alternative materials and systems at his studio in Groningen, northern Holland.

These views echo Nicolas Roope who told Dezeen that avoiding global disaster will be the greatest design challenge in history, in response to the recent UN report on climate change.

Back in 2016, the Campana brothers Fernando and Humberto, covered a house in Sao Paolo with palm fibre that gave it a hairy texture. Last year, graduate Billie van Katwijk made an alternative leather from cows’ stomachs, rather than their hides.

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The lion bought in Harrods who prowled the Kings Road in an open-top Bentley: Story of London's unlikeliest pet … – Daily Mail

The lion bought in Harrods who prowled the Kings Road in an open-top Bentley: Story of London’s unlikeliest pet revealed in stunning pictures that chronicle life of cub purchased in 1969 when department store sold host of exotic beasts

John Rendall For The Daily Mail

Almost half a century ago, John Rendall and Ace Bourke bought a lion cub at Harrods, named him Christian and raised him on London’s King’s Road, before returning him to the African wild.

A new book illustrated with stunning photographs taken by Derek Cattani, one of Christian’s ‘human pride’, retells the moving story of London’s unlikeliest pet, his new life in Africa and the heart-warming reunion between man and lion that has become one of the world’s most watched and loved videos.

Though he was just a tiny cub, there was something about the self-assured expression in his eyes that made him irresistible. It implied a strength of character that belied his cuddly teddy bear appearance.

As we gazed at him in his small cage, I blurted the words that would change my life for ever. ‘Why don’t we buy him?’ I said to my mate Ace Bourke.

Christian the lion having lunch with model Emma Breeze and friends at the Casserole restaurant on King's Road, London. the lion cub was bought in Harrods’ pet department  in November 1969

Christian the lion having lunch with model Emma Breeze and friends at the Casserole restaurant on King's Road, London. the lion cub was bought in Harrods’ pet department  in November 1969

Christian the lion having lunch with model Emma Breeze and friends at the Casserole restaurant on King’s Road, London. the lion cub was bought in Harrods’ pet department in November 1969

‘I’ve already named him,’ replied Ace, nodding in agreement. ‘He’s called Christian.’

Our visit to Harrods’ pet department that fateful day in November 1969 had been prompted by simple curiosity.

As two young Australians newly arrived in the UK, we’d heard crazy tales about a London store where you could buy not just the usual clothes and household goods, but tapirs, snakes, monkeys and even pumas and lions as well.

It sounded incredible, but when I saw the beautiful lion cub for sale that day — alert, trusting and magnificent — I was smitten. 

(These were the days before the Endangered Species Act of 1976, when it was legal for exotic creatures to be sold to the public.)

And so began our wonderful, rollercoaster life with Christian.

Day after day, after the Christmas shoppers had gone home, we’d turn up at Harrods to play with our new pet as we tried to convince his keepers that we’d be suitable owners.

Already weighing 2st, he was more than a handful as he leapt around and wrestled with us — an enchanting ball of energy with razor-sharp teeth.

Anthony Bourke and John Rendall take Christian for s spin in their convertible  on the King's Road. The pair would take the lion in a ride in the car to the churchyard to get exercise and to play

Anthony Bourke and John Rendall take Christian for s spin in their convertible  on the King's Road. The pair would take the lion in a ride in the car to the churchyard to get exercise and to play

Anthony Bourke and John Rendall take Christian for s spin in their convertible on the King’s Road. The pair would take the lion in a ride in the car to the churchyard to get exercise and to play

Patiently, the staff answered our excited but naïve questions before asking their own: where, exactly, did we think an energetic three-month-old lion cub might actually live?

It was a problem. But, as luck would have it, I’d newly started a job in a pine furniture store, Sophisto-Cat, on the King’s Road, whose owner had grown up in Africa. How might he feel about having a lion on the premises?

It was an outrageous request, but I didn’t have any better ideas. Surely, I argued, a lion was the ultimate ‘sophistocat’ — the perfect mascot?

There was a huge basement which Christian could have to himself, and we’d be on hand to look after him, as Ace and I were living in the flat above the store. 

Amazingly, the owner enthusiastically agreed. To our delight, the Harrods staff approved; we would collect Christian in three weeks’ time.

A few days later, we had a call. ‘Can you collect Christian tomorrow?’ It transpired that our new acquisition had escaped the night before and all but destroyed a display of goat-skin rugs in the carpet department, whose manager was less than pleased. What had we let ourselves in for?

It was a thrilling time to be in London. Among Sophisto-Cat’s close neighbours were Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, whose boutique later became the birthplace of the punk movement, and opposite was ultra-fashionable clothes store Granny Takes A Trip, where The Beatles, Who, Cream and Jimi Hendrix were customers. 

Pampered: Christian gets a blow dry. The lion lived in a huge basement in a pine furniture store, Sophisto-Cat, which Christian had to himself

Pampered: Christian gets a blow dry. The lion lived in a huge basement in a pine furniture store, Sophisto-Cat, which Christian had to himself

Pampered: Christian gets a blow dry. The lion lived in a huge basement in a pine furniture store, Sophisto-Cat, which Christian had to himself

Perhaps it wasn’t totally outrageous that a lion should be living among such a bohemian set.

Christian’s new home was everything we had hoped for: airy, with plenty of natural light and lots of space for a little cub to race around in, often dragging his favourite plastic pig.

With bedding, bones, toys and a large litter tray which he used assiduously after only a few days of encouragement, it was the perfect lion’s den.

Harrods supplied a detailed diet sheet: a liquid meal with raw egg and vitamins for breakfast, then raw meat — usually chopped beef or rabbit — for lunch and supper, and, as a special treat, a delicious marrow-filled bone at night.

Local restaurants and butchers offered steaks that were past their sell-by date, and cut-price meat.

Exercise soon became a concern. But where could we take him? The problem was solved by the vicar of the nearby church, who agreed to let us use its grounds just a few hundred yards from the shop. 

This sanctuary made an ideal playground, with a high entrance gate and brick walls. Residents of the flats that overlooked it would watch from their balconies and shout encouragement, waving and cheering as Christian raced around chasing footballs and — if we allowed him — us. We never received a complaint.

Friends would often come to join in. If Christian ever became too rough, we would just stand still and stop the game, and he quickly got the message.

Fleet Street photographer Derek Cattani became a regular visitor, and documented Christian’s Chelsea life.

We soon settled into a regular routine. The shop opened at 10am. By then Christian had been fed, enjoyed a ride in the car to the churchyard and returned home for a nap, leaving us to get on with running the shop.

At lunchtime he would be wide awake again and ready for his first meat meal. Then it was playtime in the den with anybody who was free to spend time with him. By the end of the afternoon Christian was ready for tea.

Christian attracts young admirers as he heads out in the Bentley. Celebrities began turning up. Diana Rigg had no qualms cuddling Christian, but her co-star in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Australian George Lazenby, did not live up to his 007 image and refused to enter the shop

Christian attracts young admirers as he heads out in the Bentley. Celebrities began turning up. Diana Rigg had no qualms cuddling Christian, but her co-star in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Australian George Lazenby, did not live up to his 007 image and refused to enter the shop

Christian attracts young admirers as he heads out in the Bentley. Celebrities began turning up. Diana Rigg had no qualms cuddling Christian, but her co-star in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Australian George Lazenby, did not live up to his 007 image and refused to enter the shop

He would then come up into the shop and wander happily around, often opting to sit on a table or chest of drawers in the window where he had a good view.

Celebrities began turning up. Diana Rigg had no qualms cuddling Christian, but her co-star in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Australian George Lazenby, did not live up to his 007 image and refused to enter the shop.

We were bombarded with requests to hire him for parties, premieres, publicity shots. To most of these we said no, though we did agree to a photoshoot with Vanity Fair, and one with racing driver James Hunt.

It was an invitation to appear on Blue Peter that brought an end to Christian’s career as a model. During a rehearsal, he behaved impeccably but by the time of the live appearance, he was bored.

Instead of a nice calm chat on the sofa with Valerie Singleton, the whole thing turned into a wrestling match as we tried to stop Christian from running off.

Ace and I decided such events were too stressful for him. He was not comfortable away from Sophisto-Cat or his churchyard. Christian was also now a year old and growing rapidly. Heartbreakingly, he would need a new home.

We began considering Longleat Safari Park. This was where some of the lions used in the hit movie Born Free — which told the story of how conservationists George and Joy Adamson had reintroduced Elsa, a hand-reared cub, into the wild in Africa — had been relocated.

Then a totally unexpected alternative arose. Actors Bill Travers and his wife Virginia McKenna, who had played George and Joy Adamson in the film, were visiting Virginia’s dressmaker, a neighbour of ours in Chelsea.

Christian tackles John during a game of football in the Moravian Close. Residents of the flats that overlooked it would watch from their balconies and shout encouragement, waving and cheering as Christian raced around chasing footballs 

Christian tackles John during a game of football in the Moravian Close. Residents of the flats that overlooked it would watch from their balconies and shout encouragement, waving and cheering as Christian raced around chasing footballs 

Christian tackles John during a game of football in the Moravian Close. Residents of the flats that overlooked it would watch from their balconies and shout encouragement, waving and cheering as Christian raced around chasing footballs 

They came to meet Christian, and asked what we were planning to do with him. We admitted we were still searching for the best solution.

A few days later, Bill rang with an idea. He had contacted George Adamson in Kenya to ask whether he would consider rehabilitating Christian there. The great lion guru had provisionally agreed.

It was a wonderful opportunity, but a challenge too. Take a fifth-generation captivity-bred lion, born in a zoo in Devon and then sold to us in a department store, to Africa? Could he adapt? And if he did, would he survive?

On August 12, 1970, Christian marked his first and last birthday in England. Two weeks later, with photographer Derek Cattani who had come to document the first stage of Christian’s rehabilitation, we touched down in Nairobi, on African soil. His ancestral homeland.

George Adamson was there to meet us. This was the man in whose hands Christian’s destiny now lay.

Together we set off in George’s jeep for the Kora reserve 250 miles away — Christian’s new home. When we stopped en route at a camp and took Christian for his first walk in Africa, an event of overwhelming significance occurred.

Christian spotted a lost cow in the bush and immediately crouched and froze. We watched as Christian stalked his prey — creeping slowly forward and using the low bushes to conceal himself. George was worried, though: the beast’s substantial horns could be lethal. 

We tried to grab Christian and, for the first time ever, he snarled at us. The episode shook us, but George was hugely impressed at his stalking instincts.

That night in camp Christian was wonderfully affectionate. Perhaps it was the excitement of his first stalking, or perhaps he was trying to make up for his earlier aggression. Either way, he dozed off with his head on a pillow and his paw on my face.

But we had learned what we most needed to know: our young lion was wild at heart. Everything would be all right.

In the summer of 1971, a year after Christian had become a wild animal, Ace and I returned to Kora to see George and, we hoped, glimpse our beloved lion.

When we called George from Nairobi he told us not to get our hopes up. Christian was now the head of a small pride — three females and a young male. George hadn’t seen them for weeks.

But when he met us at Kora he was grinning. 

‘The lions turned up this morning,’ he said. ‘Christian must have known you were coming.’

At his camp, George identified a spot for a reunion. He told us he would lead the lions to the brow of a rock, from where they could see me, Ace and a cameraman friend, Simon Trevor, who had been making a film about our story. After that, nobody knew what might happen.

As Christian crested the brow he stopped and stared at us. After a few minutes, he walked slowly down towards us, staring the whole time. He looked superb: taller, leaner and less thickly coated, but strong and confident.

His body language was self-assured as he approached. 

‘Call him,’ George said, unable to wait any longer.

And that did it: the moment he heard our voices Christian began to run down the rocky hillside, grunting with excitement. 

A 300lb lion was now bounding towards us at about 20 miles an hour. We braced ourselves for the impact and suddenly there he was, jumping up to greet us, rubbing our heads, moaning with pleasure and running backwards and forwards between us as he tried to embrace us both at the same time.

Wild at heart: A 300lb lion was now bounding towards us at about 20 miles an hour. We braced ourselves for the impact and suddenly there he was, jumping up to greet us, rubbing our heads, moaning with pleasure and running backwards and forwards between us as he tried to embrace us both at the same time

Wild at heart: A 300lb lion was now bounding towards us at about 20 miles an hour. We braced ourselves for the impact and suddenly there he was, jumping up to greet us, rubbing our heads, moaning with pleasure and running backwards and forwards between us as he tried to embrace us both at the same time

Wild at heart: A 300lb lion was now bounding towards us at about 20 miles an hour. We braced ourselves for the impact and suddenly there he was, jumping up to greet us, rubbing our heads, moaning with pleasure and running backwards and forwards between us as he tried to embrace us both at the same time

Today I look at the photos of that meeting and realise how overwhelmed I was by the powerful emotion. At that moment, the gulf between humans and lions had been blurred by sheer euphoria.

But that was not the end of the story. In 2006, the film of our reunion was spotted by an English actor named Marc Bolton, who was inspired to add a written narrative and a soundtrack using the Whitney Houston song I Will Always Love You.

Today there have been a staggering 100 million YouTube viewings of that brief clip, with interest showing no signs of abating. Christian is one of the most famous lions there has ever been.

It’s 45 years since, in 1973, Christian disappeared into the wild for ever, but some time later George heard him mating and was confident that he had established his own pride. 

Philip Mason, manager of a safari lodge near the Adamsons’ camp, often sees big-maned individuals that strongly resemble Christian. Could these be his descendants? Philip thinks so.

When Ace and I took Christian to Kenya in 1970, there were 400,000 lions in Africa. Today there are fewer than 20,000.

As the threat to Africa’s lions increases, we have much to be grateful to Christian for. 

The video gains him ever more fans and I pray it will continue to help raise awareness among new viewers, and the fight to save Christian’s descendants will gain momentum.

There could be no better legacy from a remarkable animal who continues to hold a unique place in our hearts.

Adapted from Christian The Lion: The Illustrated Legacy by John Rendall and Derek Cattani (Bradt, £14.99). © John Rendall & Derek Cattani 2018. 

To order a copy for £11.99 (offer valid to November 15, 2018, p&p free on orders over £15), visit mailshop.co.uk/books or call 0844 571 0640. To donate to the George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust visit georgeadamson.org/donate

 

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Faux furs and hides present alternative animal looks – Furniture Today

HIGH POINT — Without sacrificing good taste, area rugs are joining the list of vegan products. No animal products or byproducts used here.

“We’re capitalizing on cow-friendly hides,” Blake Dennard, senior vice president of Kaleen Rugs, told Furniture Today. “Our new Chaps collection answers to the growing population on the vegan side.”

Chaps, which Kaleen launched at the recent High Point Market, is a collection of replica cowhides handmade in India of viscose and wool.

“No cowhides were used in the making of this product,” the company stressed.

Nor for Kas Rugs’ new indoor-outdoor selection of animal-inspired rugs. The Provo collection encompasses textured machine-woven rugs made of UV-treated polypropylene and featuring a variety of spotted skin patterns.

Capel Rugs’ Luxe Shag collection of animal looks presents “a new take on shags” with its longer acrylic/polyester fibers. Plus, added Cameron Capel, president of sales and marketing, these pieces “can even be cut into a pelt shape.”

Capel RugsCapel Rugs, Safari Leopard rug by Kevin O’Brien

The company has several other species of animal-friendly rugs, like the machine-made Leopard that is based on a textile design by Kevin O’Brien, a licensee of Capel Rugs for the past eight years.

Animal prints, O’Brien said, “connect with us on several levels. … Even though they have a practical purpose for the animal, they are naturally elegant and by definition perfect.

“In our DNA, there is a connection to the wild origins of our own species, and the wildness is still very much present in these animals,” he added. “We revere the primal nature of these beautiful animals and know that we are not really that far removed from them.”

For her latest introduction with Loloi Rugs, designer Justina Blakeney of “Jungalow” fame dreamed up a contemporary faux-tiger series in both native and exotic colorways. Ironically named Feroz, which means fierce in Spanish, this tame version of animal skin is hand-loomed by artisans in India and then feline formed.

Blakeney said the idea for Feroz came to her after she found an antique Tibetan prayer rug at a flea market.

“I researched the history of these prayer rugs and learned that they tell a rich story of Tibetan culture and are full of Buddhist symbolism. They are traditionally on the smaller side and can be prohibitively expensive,” she told Furniture Today. “I wanted to put my own spin on these rugs while paying homage to their Tibetan roots. My reinterpretation is a larger scale rug made of 100% wool and is a fanciful depiction of a tiger, an animal I love.”

Domada is a newcomer to the upscale rug industry, paving its path with a niche business: cowhide-shaped vintage rugs.

Launched earlier this year as an e-commerce business and now expanding into wholesale, Domada Home sources its products from Morocco, India and Turkey, with more countries being explored. Most of its rugs average about 70 years old and feature a range of classic and traditional Oriental designs, and many are one-of-a-kind.

“I want my pieces to be unusual. I look through thousands and thousands of rugs looking for special pieces,” founder Katherine Stevens said.

Her curated collection is cut and finished into cowhide rug shapes and dimensions, which include 6’-by-6’, 6’-by-8’ and 8’-by-8’. With a rapidly growing customer base, the company’s plan is to soon add new sizes, from smaller dimensions of 4’-by-6’ to roomsize 8’-by-11’ styles.

“Hides bring an organic sense to spaces, but many responsive to this aesthetic shy away from them out of respect for the natural world,” Stevens said. “Conscientious consumers are driving design away from doing harm, and our fusion of traditional, ethnic rugs with hide and skin shapes speaks perfectly to this market.

“Domada is proud to offer its cruelty-free collection. I love that we can make something special that feels organic but doesn’t harm any animals.”

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Siren Betty: Meet the All-Women Team Behind Some of the Most Instagram-Worthy Places in Town – Newcity Design

Nicole Alexander, Siren Betty founder and principal designer /Photo: Bailey McGuire

A 110-year-old former Free Methodist Publishing House turned hip, urban B&B—think exposed brick, refurbished furnishing and vintage-inspired floor tile patterns combined with cowskin rugs, taxidermy and mid-century modern pieces scavenged from flea markets and thrift stores around the country. A nostalgia-inspired space with 1960s midwestern supper club vibes, vinyl booths, a vintage soda machine and a two-lane bowling alley. An underground wine bar finding balance between old and new with design elements that include velvet-tufted sofas, an old-school refrigerator and a custom-made mural. A small-plate Mexican joint, an elegant hair and nail salon, an artisan bakery and a Dr. Marten’s store in the heart of Wicker Park.

What do they all have in common? Two words: Siren Betty. The all-women team behind some of the most Instagram-worthy places around the city—namely The Press Room, discreetly located in the basement of The Publishing House, the eleven-room West Loop bed-and-breakfast, Quiote Mexican restaurant and lounge, pHlour all-natural bakery and cafe, Solo salon and Dustin Drankiewicz’s newest cocktail bar, Pink Squirrel—knows their stuff. Describing their unique approach to the spaces they create as one that uses mid-century-modern-design nods, eccentric wallpaper, tiles sourced from around the world and beautiful greenery that makes any space feel more alive, the Siren Betty team leaves no stone unturned—from concept to design to execution.

The Publishing House B&B /Photo: Joshua Haines, Maypole Studios

The Publishing House B&B /Photo: Joshua Haines, Maypole Studios

And when Lexi Goddard (a self-described jack-of-all-trades with responsibilities that include conceptual art, project bidding and installation management), interior designer Nikki Wlodarczyk and Susan Williams, the team’s project manager, get together under the guidance of founder and principal designer Nicole Alexander, they’re not afraid to get their hands dirty. Which is why they deliver. “Siren Betty Design is an all-woman, full-service team and that means being hands-on and even using power tools from time to time,” says Alexander. With a background in 3D studio art and art history, she was working in the hospitality industry before her transition into interiors. “Siren Betty Design was born in 2006 through an amazing network of architects and designers, and a determination to own my own business,” she says, stressing the importance of Chicago’s constantly growing creative and entrepreneurial community.

“The most fun aspect of a project is connecting with the owners and operators. We’ve met so many great business owners and it’s fun to collaborate on ideas and the design of a space,” she says. “Final installs are an exciting step as well—we always enjoy being able to see a project come together.” As she crafts her creative vision, her inspiration comes from many things including fashion, art, travel, visiting new bars and restaurants, and reading books and magazines. “My team is also the best source of inspiration,” she says. “We brainstorm before every project.”

Pink Squirrel /Photo: Joshua Haines

Pink Squirrel /Photo: Joshua Haines

As for Siren Betty’s ability to seamlessly bridge design styles and sensibilities across multiple decades: “If the construction is new we fill the gaps with unique pieces that are often found or repurposed,” she says. “We always try to find classic elements that won’t tire. We don’t want a space to feel overdone. Instead, we want the spaces we design to feel lived in.”

To achieve the perfect balance, the team brings in vintage furniture, flea market finds, and sources items handmade by artisans in developing nations. “Hunting for vintage finds is our favorite! We love discovering and refurbishing treasures and we love the socially conscious and green aspect of it as well—we try to reuse and repurpose as much as possible on our projects. It’s very important to us.”

Pink Squirrel /Photo: Joshua Haines

How does she go about design in her personal life and spaces? “My personal design taste is modern and eclectic—much like Siren Betty Design’s projects,” she says. “I’m constantly swapping out fixtures and furnishings. On shopping trips for clients, I usually find a piece that I need too.” Between commercial and residential spaces, she currently keeps busy renovating Old Town staple Benchmark, part co-working space, part incubator, part members club, Salt Flats and various bars and restaurants around town. But, always up for a challenge, she has another big project in the works: “We have been renovating our house for a year and we have another year left,” she says. “It’s a fun process, but I’m scared that by the time the renovations are complete, I’ll be bored and ready for something new!”

Siren Betty team /Photo: Bailey McGuire

Vasia Rigou

Greek-born Vasia Rigou is a Chicago-based art critic and pop culture journalist, largely on the subjects of contemporary art, design, and fashion. She moved to Chicago in 2013 to study Arts Journalism at the School of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC,) where she was awarded the New Artist Society Merit Scholarship. She grew up to appreciate art after years of carefully planned, culture-filled travel itineraries and museum-hopping around Europe with her family. During this time, she received a bachelor’s in English Literature, in her native Athens; a master’s in Media, in Nottingham, UK; and studied foreign languages—English, German, and Spanish at the University of Salamanca, Spain. Her writing—reviewing museum exhibitions, gallery shows, art fairs, fashion shows, and music festivals among others—has been published nationally and internationally both in print and online. In 2017, she founded and now serves as editor-in-chief of Rainbowed.—an independently published website focused on the visual and performing arts, digital media, and popular culture. When she’s not writing about art or looking at art—wine in hand, she keeps up with Chicago’s creative entrepreneurial and startup community, makes lists for pretty much everything, eats immense amounts of pizza and takes cross-country road trips every chance she gets.

Contact: hello@rigouvasia.com Website: www.rigouvasia.com

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Michelin-Star Dining In The Remote Faroe Islands – Forbes

Maybe I’m a little different from most gourmands. For me, simply knowing a restaurant received a Michelin star doesn’t make it inherently appealing. Instead, I gravitate to restaurants all over the world, whether Michelin-starred or not, that open a window into local culture and history, and where the cuisine is rooted in the traditional that’s made modern. For those reasons and oh, so many more, I fell in love with KOKS, a Michelin-starred restaurant in the far-flung Faroe Islands. (KOKS — a Faroese word with varied meanings, including a type of coal, as well as to be seductive, or busy preparing something — received its Michelin star in 2017, and maintained it this year, 2018.)

Traditional drying shed where appetizers and beverages are served.Claes Bech and Poulsen

The former farmhouse housing KOKS.Beinta and Torkilsheyggi

This autonomous archipelago nation of the Kingdom of Denmark consists of 18 islands, all with a distinctive personality, that huddle in the North Atlantic. Roads thread through a dramatic, moody landscape of sheer cliffs, undulating hills dripping with waterfalls, cross-crossed by streams, and blanketed in green pastures. On Streymoy, one of the two largest isles, KOKS recently moved from the village of Kirkjubour to a new and much more convenient — but equally wild, rustic and remote — setting near the capital city of Torshavn.

Scenic Lake Leynavatn and the surrounding hillsJeanine Barone

Their 18-course degustation menu — as well as the restaurant itself — is truly a celebration of the myriad sights, flavors and aromas that make the Faroe Islands an unforgettable destination. In fact, by dining at KOKS, it’s as if you’re being taken on a whirlwind tour of this precious archipelago that’s renowned for its pristine air, land and water.

The native Faroese executive chef, Poulsen Andrias Ziska, pays tribute to the islands’ traditions, while embracing the New Nordic philosophy of cooking, relying on locally-sourced, including foraged, ingredients, and then elevating the dishes to an avant-garde level. (Since just about every Faroese village sits along the coast that runs for hundreds of miles, it shouldn’t be all that surprising to learn that fish, shellfish and other items from the surrounding waters make up a large part of the menu.) In addition, the citizenry has long relied on root vegetables (turnips and rhubarb) along with potatoes, as well as lamb that’s fermented in wooden drying huts for months on end, resulting in a strong flavor that’s prized. These treasured ingredients and cooking methods are important in KOKS’ menu that’s sustainable and changes seasonally.

Chef Poul Andrias ZiskaClaes Bech and Poulsen

Diners staying in the capital will have no trouble finding a taxi driver to take them on the barely 30-minute drive to KOKS, a drive with not-to-be-missed scenery, especially during the seemingly endless summer days where day and night almost blend into one. Sheep in all different shades of black, white, brown, and gray graze beside the roads that curl through a desolate windswept expanse dotted with occasional charming dwellings that seem far outnumbered by the numerous waterfalls and streams. Eventually, the road narrows, turning to gravel, only to dead end at a wee, turf-roofed, black painted wooden shed that fronts scenic Lake Leynavatn.

Traditional drying shed where appetizers and beverages are served.Jeanine Barone

The multitude of slits in this traditional drying shed (for fish and meats) allows the salty air to blow through, something that’s essential for the fermentation process. A staff member will greet you, and, once inside, you’ll join other diners at a communal table, nibbling on a few appetizers (including fermented and dried lamb and whitefish) while sipping kombucha or artisanal beer. Then everyone hops in a four-wheel drive for an ultra-short, bumpy trip paralleling the placid lake along a dirt track that wanders over a black sand beach, crossing a small stream. Finally, in a setting that couldn’t be more magical, the restaurant comes into view: a centuries-old turf roofed, rugged basalt stone former farmhouse snuggled by verdant fields and hills carpeted in a brilliant green tapestry.

The restaurant huddles in a scenic verdant landscapeJeanine Barone

Basalt stone restaurantBeinta and Torkilsheyggi

Diners find candles, and flower arrangements made from foraged blossoms and branches of crowberry decorating each of the tables in the minimalist but cozy blond wood interior where sheepskin rugs are draped all about. This setting, however, does not linger in the past, instead easily melding the contemporary with the traditional. The modern dish ware and sculptures decorating the rooms are created by Gudrid Poulsen, a well-respected ceramicist who designed these exclusively for KOKS.

The minimalist interiorClaes Bech and Poulsen

Over the next three to four hours, even the most well-traveled guests will be surprised by the medley of dishes — and the complex flavor profiles — each with a unique presentation, often resembling a micro work of art.

Bacalao and parsleyClaes Bech-Poulsen

Crab and seaweedClaes Bech-Poulsen

basket crab, elderflower, crispy buckwheat, Capelin roeClaes Bech-Poulsen

crispy celeriac served with fermented celeriac powder and a mushroom emulsionClaes Bech-Poulsen

These are a few of the 18 courses I recently sampled:

  • A raw scallop served with caramelized broth and roe is set on a bed of snail shells in a shallow wooden dish.

ScallopClaes Bech and Poulsen

ScallopJeanine Barone

  • Mahogany clam — it has a unique lifespan of hundreds of years — is accompanied by a jelly of kelp and puree of kale, topped with wintercress and placed atop weathered river stones in a lovely ceramic plate.

Mahogany clamJeanine Barone

  • A curved wooden plate holds a langoustine head stuffed with a tartar made from the tail and flavored with a cream from the brain. Beside it sits a bowl of fresh raw cow’s milk cheese plus fermented carrots.

LangoustineJeanine Barone

  • Even the palate cleanser is unique: a rhubarb compost with nasturtium is displayed atop a whitewashed ceramic cube.
  • Steamed deep sea crab is served with a gel of fermented leek, grilled leek, sea sandwort, salted thongweed, and a side of crab foam made with Faroese elderflower.

Sea crabJeanine Barone

  • The codfish dish is really three dishes in one: Cod cheeks and throat are grilled and served with barbecue sauce; a bowl holds a foam made from smoked cod roe; and, set atop cod vertebrae in a lovely ceramic vase, is a sandwich of cod liver and fresh herbs spread between two thin cod skin wafers.

Cod fishJeanine Barone

The series of desserts are equally innovative:

  • Grass granita — yes, it’s made from grass — is drizzled with a sorrel sauce.

GranitaJeanine Barone

  • Wild thyme ice cream sprinkled with crowberries is accompanied by a sauce of charcoal burnt cream.
  • Cream is infused with dulse seaweed, crystalized chocolate, dried blueberries, and pickled thongweed.

Seaweed dessertJeanine Barone

After having savored 18 courses, at close to midnight, I finally stepped outside, captivated by the magical pastiche of blue and gray hues overhead as the day still hung onto the night. My taxi was waiting to take me back to Torshavn, but I remained fixated on this rustic setting that seemed right out of a bucolic scene from Lord of the Rings. I knew I would hold dear the many hours of dining that literally embraced the heart and soul of the Faroe Islands.

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Trade Secrets – savannahmagazine

Just a month after renovating her family’s new home, interior designer Leah Bailey hosted a party. Eighty-plus guests and 12 servers mingled throughout her mostly white dwelling that rainy afternoon, bearing red wine, sweet tea, various bruschettas and other tasty stain-makers. 

Bailey never batted an eye. “We had the best time!” she recalls. And no wonder. She was confident her “Lowcountry, Southern, relaxed French” decor could withstand any number of guests. Longer term, she knew the home would also suit her outdoorsy husband, two energetic kids, three dogs (two of them puppies) and one young, adventurous cat. 

Bailey began her design career 17 years before buying this house, and she had already designed more than 30 clients’ homes, including many vacation retreats. Planning for active lifestyles became second nature to her as she continued to refine her serenely elegant, but distinctly durable, style. Its hallmarks: tranquil colors, abundant textures, reclaimed materials and unique art and collections — all in harmony with classical trim and, here and there, modern furnishings. 

Along the way, she also renovated five homes for her own family ­— the Bradley Point house is the Baileys’ sixth. She and husband, Stephen, a pharmaceutical rep, began renovating their first home in 2002. In 2014, the couple renovated and moved into their fifth house, their most extensive renovation to date. Bailey, whose mother had just died suddenly, was “hungry for a big project” to help her cope with her grief. And quite a big project it was, with down-to-the-studs demolition and rebuilding. “When we were done, the only original things left were the interior doors, a bathtub and the fireplace,” she recalls. 

Lounging.

Picture 1 of 26

Photo by Kelli Boyd

The Baileys settled in, the way they always do. “It’s important for our home to support kids and dogs,” Bailey says, citing her knack for making outdoor rugs and fabrics fit her distinctive aesthetic, and for collecting versatile antiques that function well in different spaces. “For me, a successful interior is one that can evolve,” she says. 

After four years in the all-but-rebuilt house, the Baileys began considering moving to Bradley Point. It was near the Savannah Yacht Club, where Leah and Stephen had met, and where they’d maintained a family membership for years. Their kids had friends in the neighborhood, and they all loved the breezy island setting. 

But the type of home they wanted — newly built and somewhat secluded — was scarce. So when a real estate agent called about a new house they could tour before it went on the market, they jumped at it. 

It was just the right size and location for the family and just the type of project Bailey needed. “I could give it my personal touch without another major renovation.”  Her personal touches included a new kitchen backsplash, new paint and lighting inside and out, new outside shutters and new landscaping. 

Because their previous home sold quickly, the Bradley Point renovations took place after the Baileys moved in. Painters, installers and landscapers came and went with surprisingly little disruption. It helped that Bailey had worked happily with most of them before. “With my clients and in my own home, I stick with people I know and trust,” she says. 

Once the makeover was done, friends who’d seen the home before “couldn’t believe it was the same place,” she laughs. “But basically, all we changed was the lighting, paint and furniture placement.” 

Inspired by seashells, small relics and bits of wood she’d collected on her travels, the new space is as breezy and bright as its island setting. Walls are painted in Paperwhite by Benjamin Moore, a slightly blue-tinted white reminiscent of summer sunlight. “It’s important to me when I come in that my eye has somewhere to settle,” she says, and pale walls offer that. Fabrics and rugs are also light in tone, but surprisingly dirt-proof — even the striking white cowhide under the farmhouse-style dining room table. “Cowhide is really durable,” Bailey says. “And you can clean it with a hose — just like a cow!” 

Like the dining room, the spacious kitchen is a welcoming spot for guests — and chefs in the making. “I love to cook and my son does, too! He could cook every meal with me!” The double sinks come in handy for those mother-son meal-prep sessions. 

The living room includes two seating areas, one with club chairs that swivel to help conversation flow. Treasured mementoes, including shells Bailey’s mother collected, beckon from tabletops and inhabit two large painted cabinets, new but chosen largely because they look old. “They’re not perfect,” Bailey says. “They look like something you’d find in a unique little shop.”

Genuine antiques also inhabit the space, including another painted cabinet Bailey intends to keep forever. This home includes many things she’s become attached to. Some have been moved from room to room, others from home to home. Some are heirlooms, like her mother’s collections and her own childhood iron bed (now in her daughter’s room). “I like a space to have history,” she says, “and to tell a personal story.”

Details 

Owner(s): Stephen & Leah Bailey

Year built: 2014

Year purchased: 2017

Square footage: heated 3,693; under roof 4,948

Number of bedrooms and bathrooms: 4 bedrooms, 4.5 baths

Time to complete renovation/remodel: 1 year to complete renovation

Residential planners: Wilson Roberts Residential Planning

Interior designer: Leah G. Bailey of LGB Interiors, LLC

Contractor/builder: Jeff Hart with Homes With Hart Construction

Tile/flooring: Garden State Tile / MT Adams Tile, Phillips Flooring 

Counters: Creative Stone 

Paint: David Balza of JD Painting 

Wallpaper: Leah G. Bailey of LGB Interiors, LLC.

Wallpaper Installer: Edwina Scarborough

Windows/doors: Anderson

Kitchen design: Leah G. Bailey of LBG Interiors, LLC; fixtures, Kohler at Ferguson Showroom

Bath design: Leah G. Bailey of LBG Interiors, LLC; fixtures, Rohl at Ferguson Showroom; Wilson cabinets; Circa Lighting light

Lighting design: Leah G. Bailey of LBG Interiors, LLC

Landscape and hardscape design: Will Schubert with Premier Landscaping 

Audio/visual: Sight & Sound

Plumber: Randy Arkwood

Landscaper: Will Schubert with Premier Landscaping

HVAC: Ogeechee Heating and Air

Furniture: Leah G. Bailey of LGB Interiors, LLC

Appliances: Livingoods

Accessories: Leah G. Bailey of LGB Interiors, LLC and Habersham Antiques, Alex Raskin Antiques, Clutter, Picker Joe’s, Scott Antique Markets in Atlanta, Irene Mayo, and Bellamy Murphy

Art: Leah G. Bailey of LGB Interiors, LLC

Art framing: Atwells

Family Photos: Christine Hall Photography 

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The NBA's Man of Many Faces – Vice Sports

On a hot day in early September, three glass revolving doors twirl into the midtown Manhattan high-rise where the most fascinating man in the NBA spent most of his summer. The lobby is palatial, with a dazzling chandelier fixed in the center of the room; a young woman with platinum blonde hair stands directly underneath it, inside a front desk that looks like someone cut a marble egg in half, juggling phone calls and small talk with delivery men as they scurry across the floor.

New York Knicks center Enes Kanter steps out from an elevator behind her, armed for the heat in a white short-sleeve hoodie, dark mesh shorts, and solid teal low-top Nikes. A trimmed beard accentuates his baby-fat-free face, and the thick hair atop his head takes the shape of a Brillo pad that’s been dyed black. A long, red scar runs along his right forearm, memorializing the time he fractured it punching a chair in the middle of a game. A towering, chiseled, bronze sculpture of a man, Kanter’s stride is unexpectedly graceful; it’s unclear if his heels ever touch the ground. If any other first impression can be had, it’s that he’s almost too affable: Over the next two minutes, Kanter asks how I’m doing and/or if I’m good four separate times.

We exit the elevator and pass through a noisy weight room and congested lounge, towards a cafe that’s attached to a broad outdoor terrace. Before we move outside to escape the crowd, Kanter points up at a giant menu populated by fresh pressed juices, açaí bowls, and almond butter shakes. “They have smoothies!” he smiles. “Are you sure you don’t want something? You’re not getting anything? Seriously you have to get something.” We grab two water bottles and make our way outside to sit in the far corner, beneath a giant sun umbrella for the rest of an afternoon that’s already unlike any I’ve ever had. For Kanter, it’s a typical day: A visitor is here to ask questions about his inexplicably complex life.

Over the past two years, Kanter has manifested one of the NBA’s most distinct personas: He’s an activist, one of the world’s hundred best basketball players, a political dissident, gentle humanitarian, and proficient troll. (“I don’t know what’s wrong with him,” LeBron James once said.) He combines mild mischievousness with a big heart, adored by those who know him as he exasperates those who don’t.

“He was a straight enemy,” Kyle O’Quinn, Indiana Pacers center and Kanter’s former New York Knicks teammate, says. “[Now] that’s my boy. Make sure you quote me on that. That’s my boy. That’s my boy. There’s a bunch of o’s and a bunch of y’s. That’s. My. Boooyyy.”

On the court, Kanter is determined but limited in ways that have prevented him from logging heavy minutes on a good team. Off it, he’s an impossibly generous, vulnerable, and self-motivated spirit.

“I think there’s a lot of guys in the NBA who’re blessed with this huge size and huge strength and huge ability, and therefore they act accordingly. They are loud or they are dominant or demonstrative,” 11-year NBA veteran Steve Novak, who played with Kanter in Utah and Oklahoma City, says. “I think Enes has been blessed with so many of those things. He’s this huge dude. But he’s holding kittens at the humane society and going to the children’s hospital. He uses his platform in as amazing a way as I’ve seen a teammate use it.”

“When I look back at my basketball career, I want to say I tried to inspire as much as I could.”

This summer, Kanter organized 14 free basketball camps for children all over the United States, paying for everything—t-shirts, pizza, the gym, water—out of his own pocket. “When I look back at my basketball career, I want to say I tried to inspire as much as I could,” he says. “When I go to those camps, I don’t just talk about basketball. I talk about education, how to become a good person, everything.”

His interests span wider than the average human, let alone your typical NBA player. He still gleams as the boy who used to dream about becoming an astronaut—he follows NASA on instagram, and half-jokingly won’t let the narrow physical dimensions of a spaceship’s cockpit ever impede him from strapping into one. (“I still would love to go to space,” he says.) Kanter also grew up watching David Copperfield and Chris Angel. He can turn a cup of water into ice, bend spoons with his mind, and plunge a tight string into and through his Adam’s apple. “I actually learned a few tricks from him,” Kerem Kanter, his younger brother who plays professional basketball in France, says. “I try to do them every once in a while to impress people.”

Kanter’s most intense obsession is the WWE, and it’s grown ever since he introduced himself as The Undertaker at the University of Kentucky’s Big Blue Madness in 2010. “It was funny as hell, and the fans flipped out,” Kentucky head coach John Calipari says. “There were people falling from the upper deck to the lower deck when he came out.” (When he met the real Undertaker a few months ago, Kanter’s knees shook.) Today, he’s close friends with several professional wrestlers and is dedicated to becoming one after he retires from basketball, which he hopes won’t be until his mid-30’s.

“I’m actually talking to the people over there now. Vince McMahon, he knows me,” Kanter says. “I had dinner with [Paul Heyman] two, three days ago. I asked him how long he’s gonna do this and he said ‘as long as Brock [Lesnar] goes, I go, and then I’m with you.’ I’m like yes! Seriously. I’m really serious about it.”

A few minutes later, as we discuss how Jersey Shore, Spongebob Squarepants, and Home Alone—“You can not beat that. It’s a classic. I watched that when I was growing up and I still watch it when I get bored,” he says—helped him pick up English, Kanter is suddenly adamant about showing me who he’s been exchanging DM’s with on Twitter. He taps his phone: “I’m talking to Mike The Situation! He said ‘let me know when you have some tickets when the season starts, I will bring Vinnie and the wifey.’ That’s my man.”

All this makes Kanter compelling enough, but the intersection between that playfulness and a literal life-or-death fight he’s waged against the Turkish government is where he becomes one of the most fascinating professional athletes in recent memory. With a voice that serves as a tight fist for thousands of imprisoned Turkish citizens who themselves have been silenced by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s authoritarian regime, it’s critical that Kanter’s diverse interests and sometimes bizarre behavior do not damage his credibility. Instead, what he represents in public is the natural and masterful interpretation of a benevolent rebel. At 26 years old, Kanter pursues it all in the most admirable, cringeworthy, and immeasurably hilarious ways; he exists without an analog.

“I don’t want to say socially awkward,” Kerem Kanter says. “But Enes used to be shy and he didn’t like to talk to strangers. Now he loves the attention. He talks to the media a lot. He has a ton of friends. He talks to people every day. He actually enjoys doing that.”

So much of this side can be seen every ten minutes on social media, where Kanter floods his feeds with political opinions, videos of himself strolling through Times Square, dressing up like a Marvel character, and, of course, the unprovoked albeit harmless attacks on fellow NBA players and teams.

“This guy doesn’t stop. I don’t know when he sleeps,” O’Quinn says. “He just sits on the internet, and I think there’s somebody helping him, behind closed doors, because I don’t know when he gets any rest. He’s on Twitter and Instagram all day.”

That incessantness translates offline into other areas of his life. The impact Kanter’s energy has in locker rooms, on bus rides, and cross-country flights feels relatively miniscule—to a certain degree it very much is—but so many of his teammates cite his ability to loosen the atmosphere as a professional advantage.

He’s the butt of a trillion jokes, but never gets sensitive about any of them, knowing that A) he brings most of the ridicule upon himself, and B) nobody is actually trying to hurt his feelings. Even when they mock his accent, diet (knowing he avoids pork for religious reasons, Kanter’s teammates would sometimes order bacon just to put it on his plate, or convince him their meals were cooked on the same grill), tight clothing, or not-that-rare refusal to shower after practice, it’s never done with malicious intent. The result is an endless collection of stories that make those who tell them smile.

Indiana Pacers wing Doug McDermott didn’t really talk to Kanter when they were teammates in Oklahoma City, but things changed after they were both traded to New York. “He called me like ‘Doug! Man! We’re going to the best city in the world!” he says. McDermott chuckles at all the different ways Kanter made himself an easy target. “Just how cheap he was. I think he still had an iPhone 4 when that was like four iPhone’s ago.”

A popular topic of conversation at the Thunder practice facility was the house Kanter purchased in Oklahoma City (that he’s since sold, at a loss). He was so excited to furnish it and asked around about hiring an interior decorator. But later, when he saw the bill and noticed that he was charged around $10,000 for curtains alone, he lost it. “It became a joke in the locker room,” Novak says. “Like, ‘Oh God, Enes is bitching about his curtains again.’”

Bring up the curtains with Enes and his smile turns into a sheepish grin. “She didn’t charge me that much but it was very expensive curtains. Very, very expensive curtains. I was like ‘what was I thinking?’”

Now a minimalist, Kanter does not own a car or a house. He refuses to indulge in the same luxuries any person on a $70 million contract is expected to enjoy, and in fact, continuing a life-long habit that began in the small bedroom he once shared with his two younger siblings, Kanter sleeps on the ground. “It’s actually better for your back” he says without the slightest trace of embarrassment. “I’m comfortable!”

This is a tiny exaggeration. A twin XL mattress is plopped in the corner of his otherwise deserted bedroom in White Plains, where he lives during the season. It’s wrapped in dark brown sheets, one matching pillow, and a champagne-colored comforter. But that’s literally it. There is no box spring, headboard, bed frame, nightstand, or lamp. (Kanter laughs out loud for a solid five seconds when I ask if he ever reads before bed.) There are no posters, rugs, or, well, anything. Officially listed at 6’11”, his calves still dangle off the foot of the mattress. “I know it’s weird,” he says. “I just like it that way.”

Photo by Jason Szenes - European Pressphoto Agency

Photo by Jason Szenes – European Pressphoto Agency

Even though he was born in Switzerland while his father, Mehmet, earned his M.D. at the University of Zurich, Kanter’s earliest memories trace back to kicking a soccer ball through the mundane streets of Van, a small city on the east side of Turkey.

His mother was a nurse, but soon retired to take care of her four children (Kanter’s two younger brothers play basketball—the youngest attends high school in Atlanta—and his sister recently graduated from medical school.) “We were not too wealthy, we were not too poor,” he says. “We were comfortable.”

For the Kanter family, countless weekends trickled by on the beaches of Lake Van, Turkey’s second-largest body of water. “There was a rumor that there was a monster inside,” he says. “I don’t think there is.”

Kanter’s passion for soccer grew—he still thanks it for developing his low-post footwork—until other kids in his apartment building and throughout the neighborhood stuck him in goal. They laughed at his big feet and poked fun at how huge he was. He hated it. Life in the classroom wasn’t any more pleasant.

“I don’t know what happened. I became a very terrible student.”

Kanter can still picture the wood switch his first-grade teacher used to wield at students who fell out of line. “Whenever you did something crazy they’d say ‘open your hand,’” he says. “I still remember, man. My hands would hurt so bad. Oh my God.”

School was everything in his family, but it wasn’t his thing. “I was a really good student, first, second grade, third grade, and then fourth grade a little bit. And then I don’t know what happened. I became a very terrible student. I wish I took it more serious.”

His parents still pushed him up through middle school, until the pressure to succeed conflicted with the cold reality of knowing he wasn’t put on this Earth to master or even enjoy academia. (Years later, when enrolled at Kentucky, Kanter passed all his classes except art, which he eventually dropped. “It was three hours at night. Too long,” he says. “We weren’t drawing either. It was like history, with reading and stuff.”) Whenever organized basketball came up as a possibility, Kanter’s father would rant about poor grades and the money he already paid the school. His mother repeatedly reminded him that millions of kids wanted to do the exact same thing. “I was getting so much shit from my parents, from my family,” he says.

But perspectives began to shift when he was eleven. A competitive game of after-school ping-pong against his dad spilled onto the basketball court. The two played one-on-one, a boy against his athletic, volleyball-keen, 6’5” father. Enes won. In Mehmet’s eyes, stifling this gift was officially foolish.

Fate intervened a couple years later, when, according to Enes, Mehmet attended a conference in Ankara, Turkey’s capital. He walked into a store for school supplies and a man tapped him on the shoulder. “Is your son as tall as you?” It was a local basketball coach who wondered if today might be his lucky day. (It was.) Enes’s family followed him to Ankara, where he spent two years playing at a school called Samanyolu. After that he moved to Istanbul to play for Turkey’s top basketball club, Fenerbahce Ulker. Not even 16, Kanter had already become one of the world’s more alluring big man prospects.

He never stayed up until 4 AM to watch NBA games when they aired at home, but did catch Utah Jazz highlights the following day, so he could see Turkey’s Mehmet Okur in action. Aside from Okur and Hedo Turkoglu, there weren’t many Turkish role models in the NBA for Kanter to look up to. But even then, when he was banging up against grown men literally twice his age in the Euroleague, Kanter’s focus was always on the United States. He desperately wanted to play high-school, college, and professional ball against the best of the best. But leaving Fenerbahce was more complicated than he expected. During his second season with the team, Kanter turned down a six-year contract for one million Turkish lira (which translated to about $785,000 U.S. dollars at the time). “They’re saying ‘don’t go, don’t leave,’” he remembers. “I was scared.”

The relationship grew tense. One day at the gym, an older teammate untied his shoes, took them off his feet, and hurled both right at Kanter. “How can you leave without talking to me?” he shouted. Kanter wanted to scream back “You’re not my dad!” but kept quiet.

Another long-term contract offer was made, this time for six million Turkish lira. But Kanter spurned the club once again, and along with his life coach and eventual agent Max Ergul, flew one way across the Atlantic Ocean for the very first time. The first stop was Chicago, where Kanter worked out with Tim Grover, Michael Jordan’s famous personal trainer. “There was so much free Muscle Milks,” Kanter says. “I was drinking three or four a day. A day! It was free! I was like ‘Oooh, it tastes so good.’”

From there, actually playing high-school basketball wasn’t easy. As a coveted international prospect, prep schools all over the country wanted him on their side, but thanks to a Nike contract his father signed, along with the money Fenerbahce gave his family, they were also weary of his flimsy amateur status. Kanter initially wanted to enroll at Virginia’s Oak Hill Academy—a basketball factory that’s produced an untold number of success stories, including Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, and Rajon Rondo—but the team’s head coach, Steve Smith, preferred to avoid any potential scandal.

Plan 1-A was Nevada’s Findlay Prep. With the hope of joining forces with Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph, Kanter was a tank with ball skills. “He could step out and put it on the ground,” Mike Peck, Findlay Prep’s former head coach, says. “His movement was fluid, much like a perimeter player. He wasn’t stiff and rigid.”

But Kanter only spent a couple weeks in Las Vegas before the program ended their relationship. (Oak Hill’s Smith had reportedly refused to compete against any team Kanter was on.) “Our understanding was I think there was something with his dad,” Peck says. “His dad may have signed something over in Turkey that, on behalf of Enes, affected his amateurism. So that’s when we had to say ‘Hey, sorry but we can’t jeopardize our program.’”

Enes, understandably, was crushed. “Think about it, man. I came [to the United States], turned down millions,” he says. “Turned down all the big Nike deals. Turned down…I could be like a legend in Europe. I was killing everybody my age.” But he didn’t sulk. In the days after Findlay Prep informed him of their decision, as Ergul tried to figure out their next move, Kanter’s drive didn’t decelerate. “He was in the gym and he was sweating and he was working,” Peck says. “He wasn’t just, shoes unlaced, messing around. His poise and composure was commendable.”

A similarly frustrating pitstop at West Virginia’s Mountain State Prep preceded Kanter finally landing somewhere that was willing to let him play: Stoneridge Prep in Simi Valley, California, a few miles north of Los Angeles. It was nice to have some stability, but Kanter remembers the situation as anything but normal.

“I walked into the classroom and there were spiders everywhere,” he says. “It was like spider webs. It was very weird. There were like fifteen students in the whole school.” Kanter was there seven months, first living in a house with his teammates before he moved into an American family’s home. It was his first uninterrupted taste of a new culture. At first, he didn’t shop for groceries and ate Nutella for lunch. One morning, he grabbed a box off the top of the refrigerator, opened it, then mixed its contents in a bowl with some milk. A teammate strolled into the kitchen and couldn’t stop laughing. “They said ‘You’re not supposed to eat it like that.’ I said ‘Why? It’s cereal!’ They said ‘It’s not cereal. It’s Cheeze-Its.’”

Practices were held at a 24 Hour Fitness, and Kanter still remembers being confused when random gym members shot at the same basket his team used. But he was dominant, and knew he wouldn’t be there forever. “I remember I had one game, I was so tired of scoring,” he says. “I missed a shot on purpose. A free-throw! I don’t want to score anymore. I still remember that game. It was too easy.”

Kanter verbally accepted an offer made by the University of Washington without ever visiting the school or even stepping foot in the same state. He knew a couple coaches there but had no serious ties or desire to attend. Not long after, Calipari flew to Los Angeles to see Kanter in person for the first time. It was a pickup game at 24 Hour Fitness.

“I immediately said ‘Holy cow, this kid is like 18? This is ridiculous,’” Calipari says. “He was really skilled. Obviously he was really big. But he was really skilled for a guy his size, which kind of surprised me.”

Once he realized they were interested, Kanter immediately decommitted from Washington to sign with the Wildcats. He had emerged as a prodigious cult figure, having recently broken Dirk Nowitzki’s single-game scoring record at the barometric Nike Hoop Summit in Oregon, with a 34-point, 13-rebound gem in just 24 minutes off the bench. (Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson finished with 29 points combined.)

But Kanter’s alleged impropriety followed him to Lexington. And the fact that Washington’s former athletic director, Mark Emmert, had just been named President of the NCAA probably didn’t help. Weeks before his freshman season began, Fenerbahce went public, alleging that Kanter had received “over $100,000 in cash and benefits.” They also submitted financial documents to the NCAA. Instead of playing basketball, Kanter sat through several interviews with investigators, some lasting six hours.

“His dad didn’t want him to go to a club school [in Turkey]. He wanted him to go to a private school, because his father was a professor,” Calipari says. “The club agreed to pay for it, and instead of paying the [private] school directly, they paid Enes’s father to give the money to the school, which the father did. And he had checks and everything that he wrote and showed. The club was upset that [Enes] didn’t come back and said that they wouldn’t cooperate. In other words ‘we’re not gonna say that’s what it was,’ but the dad showed that’s what it was. The NCAA said he’s not paying. I was appalled.”

Kanter learned about his lifetime ban watching television in his dorm room. Calipari remembers a meeting soon after in his office: Kanter looked at the floor and held back tears. Going back to Istanbul never crossed his mind, though, especially after he received a barrage of texts from his former club that outlined how hopeless his NBA dream truly was. If he wanted to succeed, it had to be in Turkey, they told him. “I knew if I went back, that road would be closed and none of the [Turkish] players would take that risk and come to America again,” he says. “Everybody would be scared.”

Kanter stayed in Kentucky throughout the season. Initially he wasn’t allowed to be in the same gym while the team practiced, so the school assigned Kanter his own coach. “I would practice after or before [the team],” he says. The restrictions extended to weight training, where strength and conditioning coaches wrote instructions on note cards and then taped them all over the room. “He said ‘When you work out, we’re not allowed to talk to you’,” Kanter says.

That was short lived, though. Kentucky quickly made Kanter “a student-assistant coach,” and the NCAA allowed him to practice with the team. “Every day, NBA people came in and watched him. He got Josh Harrellson drafted because every day Josh had to go against him. Josh Harrellson got drafted because of Enes Kanter,” Calipari says. “I told him ‘we have a plan. You’re gonna practice, we’re gonna have pro scouts, and you, my man, you’re getting drafted, son. And you’re getting drafted in the top five.’”

In 2011, Kanter was selected third overall by the Jazz, but the NBA’s lockout robbed him of a formal training camp, leading to an understandably rough adjustment period, on and off the floor. He was hazed by veteran teammates, especially Al Jefferson, and found that the more he tried to fit in, the further he drifted from who he really was.

“Enes partied a lot. Everybody knew that,” Trey Burke, Kanter’s current teammate who also played with him in Utah, says. “That was his rookie season, though. He’ll even tell you that.” Indeed, he does: “I was going out with my teammates and hanging out and stuff, but once you’re in your second year and your third year, you get more smarter and more smarter, you know? And you’re like ‘OK, basketball comes first, so stick to basketball,’” Kanter says.

He was not happy in Salt Lake City, primarily due to limited minutes and a diminishing on-court role. “He was boiling on the inside,” Novak says. Right before the All-Star break in the last year of his rookie-scale contract, Kanter demanded a trade. A couple weeks later, he was dealt to Oklahoma City. Novak was included in the deal, news that prompted his wife to burst into tears. When Kanter heard, he immediately called to apologize. “My wife wanted to kill him,” Novak laughs. “If you’re mad at Enes you’re usually not mad for long. He’s crazy so he does dumb stuff, but it usually comes from a really good place.”

The most meaningful upshot from his departure was Kanter’s own maturation intersecting with a rediscovery of the altruistic Muslim principles he embraced as a child. The need to help others, especially those who can’t help themselves, took on a much larger role in his life, dramatically altering how he viewed his responsibilities as a public figure. Kanter was about to become so much more than a basketball player.

As we sit ten stories above New York City’s rush-hour traffic, a fire truck’s deafening siren pauses our conversation. Kanter stops fiddling with his black matte watch, turns his phone over and raises his eyebrows. “Look at this, man.” He shakes his head and stretches his arm across the table. It’s a clip of Florida senator Marco Rubio dropping Kanter’s name during a senate hearing about political censorship on social media. (Kanter’s Twitter account has been blocked by the Turkish government.)

A few weeks later, outside the Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, sunlight sifts through a cloudy fall sky and glares off automatic machine guns held by NYPD officers clad in riot gear as they effectively secure the building’s perimeter. We’re at the Oslo Freedom Forum, a conference sponsored by the Human Rights Foundation that’s designed to promote and protect human rights all over the world.

As the conference begins, Kanter stands in the back, watching as a young North Korean defector tells her story in front of a packed, teary-eyed audience. When she’s through, he bends over to give her a hug as organizers latch a microphone over his ear. During their on-stage talk, Thor Halvorssen, the forum’s founder, calls Kanter an accidental activist, someone who didn’t set out to change the world but stepped up once he realized he had enough influence to do so.

Kanter first considered speaking out against Turkey’s backsliding government in 2013, after Erdogan embroiled himself in a corruption scandal. The subsequent power struggle culminated in an attempted coup, allegedly orchestrated by Fethullah Gulen, one of the country’s most popular religious and political figures. Gulen, who denies he was involved, lives in exile in Pennsylvania, where Kanter visits him regularly. Kanter’s criticism of Erdogan is well documented, and nearly led to his abduction in Romania while on a worldwide charity tour last year. Since, Kanter has taken every opportunity possible to denounce a regime that’s imprisoning innocent citizens and kidnapping dissenters who live in democratic countries.

“He’s the second-most wanted person in Turkey, after Gulen, and we’re walking aimlessly in Hawaii, in Des Moine, Iowa, not hiding from anyone,” Kanter’s manager Hank Fetic says. “There were a few times this summer where I said ‘Bro, this guy is walking a little close to us. I’m a bit worried.’”

A warrant for Kanter’s arrest was issued by the Turkish government last year, and his father is facing a trial that could put him in jail for years. It’s a neverending nightmare, but Kanter is somehow able to compartmentalize the most psychologically corrosive aspects of his life and stay as upbeat as possible. While with the Thunder, the team’s psychologist tried to speak with him. Kanter politely refused. “Don’t worry about me,” he said he told the doctor. “If I ever need someone to talk to maybe I will. But right now I’m okay.”

The emotional toll is obvious, but Kanter’s sacrifice is evident elsewhere. He can’t leave North America and hasn’t been able to secure any endorsement deals. Nike, the same company that championed Colin Kaepernick’s controversial remonstration by putting him on the frontlines of a recent ad campaign, now refuses to sign Kanter. “I talked to Nike and they said ‘we want to give Enes a contract. We’re watching him. But if we give him a contract they will shut down every store in Turkey, so we cannot give him a contract,’” he says. “I’m an NBA player with no shoe deal. No endorsement deal. And I play in New York!”

He’s curious about the fluidity of American politics, and didn’t initially understand why so many people get upset when he tweets anything negative about Donald Trump—particularly during his time in Oklahoma. Speaking as someone who’s still shocked by what’s happened to Turkey, America’s violent divisiveness and piping hot political climate terrify him. But he still dislikes the idea of protesting in the United States, for fear of turning another country into his enemy. (Don’t expect Kanter to take a knee during the national anthem anytime, ever.)

He wants to be a U.S. citizen—he’s two years from becoming eligible—and has thought about giving himself an American name. (Kanter scratches his chin when I pitch “Michael” as an option.) “I see [America] is going there, to become another Turkey,” he says. “I hope not. I pray not. But right now you see people are getting polarized. When I think about America, I think about freedom. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion. It’s a peaceful country. Now it’s like, for an immigrant, you’re kind of scared.”

Inside the Knicks practice facility, a dozen media members file into a gym that has two full-length basketball courts. New York’s second day of training camp has just ended. As players break up to shoot free throws and work on individual skills, Kanter is the only one who jogs over to the near sideline, where several coaches and front office executives—the team’s president (Steve Mills) and general manager (Scott Perry) included—are seated in a row. He goes down the line, like a the world’s most earnest politician, and shakes everybody’s hand.

Kanter recedes to a far basket and simulates pick-and-rolls with one of his coaches. He steps outside to attempt a few mid-range jumpers and then settles into the corner to hoist some threes. From shoulder to hip, his muscles ripple like a miniature mountain ridge.

“How do you not like Enes?” Knicks head coach David Fizdale says a few minutes later. “For me, he’s like our spirit. He keeps our gym light. He keeps the guys in an upbeat mood, an energetic mood. He doesn’t have bad days. And thinking about what he and his family [are] going through, the fact that he can come in here and still have enough energy to give to us, I love him.”

“How do you not like Enes?”

Kanter began preparing for this, his eighth NBA season, less than a week after his seventh one ended five months ago. Even with a hectic travel schedule, he still spent between three and four hours a day in a gym all summer. The only days he took off were those designated for rest.

“Honestly, he’s the most consistent athlete I’ve been around in a long time, as far as just being on time and punctual and what he demands out of himself,” Mike Atkinson, Kanter’s personal performance coach, says.

Kanter walked into camp with 2.8 percent body fat and 20 more pounds of muscle than he had a year ago. “He’s the healthiest eater of all time,” McDermott says. “I’ve tried multiple times this summer to go to Shake Shack, but he won’t do it. I remember on a plane ride once, I was like ‘Enes, if this plane goes down, what’s the first thing you’d do?’ He said ‘I would eat all the cheeseburgers and cookies on here,’ just because he eats more quinoa and kale and spinach than anyone I’ve ever seen.”

On the court, Kanter is aggravatingly schismatic. At his best—AKA when his team has the ball—he moves like a rhinoceros who could place in the Kentucky Derby. He consistently finishes around the rim at an elite rate and creates second, third, and fourth chances whenever a teammate’s shot (or his own) doesn’t fall. “He’s a walking assist for a lot of us guards,” Burke says. Kanter finished seventh in rebound chances per game last season, averaging at least five fewer minutes than everyone who ranked higher. Since he entered the league, only seven players have grabbed more than 1,400 offensive rebounds. Kanter has tallied at least 2,100 fewer minutes than all of them.

“My thing is to do the dirty work, bang inside, and just be a banger, you know?” he says. “I know my weaknesses. That’s the most important thing. You have to know your weaknesses. I think my [weakness is] defense, of course.” For the past five years, Kanter’s team has been atrocious on defense with him in the game and significantly better when he’s on the bench. Two postseasons ago—after a play in which Kanter was helpless to stop James Harden and Clint Capela from connecting on a lob—that reputation collided with the national spotlight when a camera panned to Thunder head coach Billy Donovan right as he turned to his assistant Maurice Cheeks to seemingly say the words: “Can’t play Kanter.”

“I did see the clip. I could read his mouth. But he said ‘I never said anything like that, I was saying something else’,” Kanter says about Donovan. “He told me he never said anything like that and I go with it. You know what I mean?”

Kanter will never be Rudy Gobert, but he’s spent the offseason building up his legs, training himself to stay in a lateral stance, watching more footage, and conceding that where he is and how he reacts is increasingly critical in a league that goes out of its way to attack him. Physical improvement can only accomplish so much without awareness, zippy instincts, and the capacity to communicate on the fly, though. And big men, like Kanter, who neither protect the rim nor shoot threes—something Washington Wizards coach Scott Brooks first encouraged him to try when both were in Oklahoma City—are an endangered species.

His game is often synonymous with these flaws, but Kanter can still be a devastating weapon if deployed correctly. Size and strength will always have a place in the NBA, particularly when found in someone who’s coordinated, physical, and willing to exert maximum energy.

As a 27-year-old free agent hitting a marketplace that’s flush with cash, so much of his next contract hinges on the progress seen in 2019. “You always think about [free agency],” Kanter says. “Even if people said ‘Oh I don’t think about it, I’m focused on the season’ it’s always in the back of your head. It can not let you affect your game, but you always think about ‘Hey, what am I going to do?’ ‘Where am I going to go?’ ‘Am I going to stay,’ ‘Am I going to leave?’”

Based on everything seen so far, odds are strongly against Kanter ever approaching league average on the defensive end, but marginal improvement is always possible. Even more likely, though, is further growth on offense, where Kanter’s assist rate—normally near the bottom of the league—has ascended over the past couple years. An opportunity to show off his three-point range will be there, too.

“Before I was saying ‘I want to average a double-double. I want to score this much points, this much blocks.’ But how can I make my teammates better? How can I make the young guys better? Because that will take you to the next level. To share the ball, to make an extra pass, to cheer for your teammates. If you’re having a bad game and other big men are having a good game, you clap for them. You stand up and cheer for them. I think those little things add up and you become a better teammate and become a better player.”

Photo by Jason Szenes - European Pressphoto Agency

Photo by Jason Szenes – European Pressphoto Agency

The most popular example of Kanter’s loyalty—and quite possibly his most relevant on-court moment—happened one year ago, when the Cleveland Cavaliers visited Madison Square Garden. The conflict started hours before the actual game, when LeBron incidentally disrespected New York’s baby-faced French point guard Frank Ntilikina by saying Dennis Smith Jr. should’ve been the Knicks pick instead.

Late in the first quarter, LeBron dunked home a lob, bumped into Ntilikina, and then refused to get out of his way. It was pure intimidation. The rookie responded by shoving James back before Kanter sprinted over to join the fray. “I was like ‘I’m proud of Frank. He’s pushing with LeBron, that’s good!’ But then after that it’s like OK, LeBron is 260 going up against an 18-year-old kid,” Kanter says. “So then I break in and I actually didn’t say nothing crazy. I was like ‘Don’t mess with my man.’ That’s it.”

The Knicks barely lost that game but then won three of their next four. “Our team needed that. Frank needed that. And I think it went a long way in the locker room,” O’Quinn says. “[Enes] got under the skin of somebody who is kinda unfazed by the many different things that people throw at him.”

The moment also cemented a bond between a veteran and a rookie who’s as shy as Kanter used to be. “The first person that I saw who wanted to help me was Enes,” Ntilikina says. “And it’s always like that, in the locker room, on the court, you always know that Enes is going to be there for you.”

This is who he is. Even still with a slight language barrier, Kanter speaks with an intent to ease. At the end of every other sentence, the man he’s talking to is “bro” or “my man.” Back at Lincoln Center, I sat on a yellow couch in the second-floor media room while he conducted an entire day’s worth of on-camera interviews with outlets from all over the world. A little after 4 PM, Kanter met me around the corner at the Empire Hotel. He looked the opposite of exhausted. We sat down on a gray couch in the brisk lobby, and without saying a word, Kanter grabbed my digital recorder and moved it to his side of the table, just to make sure it’d catch his voice. Again, he’s almost too well-mannered.

“We’ll be having dinner, and someone will come to the table and ask to take a picture and he’ll stand up and take a picture with them. I’m like ‘Bro, you’ve gotta say ‘No. After dinner.’ But he just doesn’t decline it,” Fetic says. He’s unfailingly polite, but add everything he brings to the table that’s completely disconnected from on-court performance and it’s easy to see why signing him to a long-term deal is risky. So long as he’s on their roster, the Knicks aren’t broadcast in Turkey, no small loss considering a potential market of approximately 80 million people who would certainly tune in to watch.

McDermott believes Kanter is a perfect fit where he is: “I think, not anything bad against anywhere else he’s played, but I just think he’s meant to be in New York or L.A. He just has that presence.”

He’s unpredictable and different, but being unpredictable and different, in this case, is good. Instead of ego, there’s curiosity and compassion. Given all that encompasses his world—a deteriorating homeland and troubled family that’s endured so many challenging circumstances—who has time to feel pressure on a basketball court, especially when it’s impossible to prepare any more than he already has? Kanter is unafraid of his own ambition and has long established himself as a productive professional, someone who can unmistakably affect his team’s culture without taking it over.

One day after the loss to Cleveland, Ntilikina sat by himself in a cold tub at the Knicks practice facility. A few minutes later, Kanter walked in and slid into the freezing water. They acknowledged each other and then sat in an awkward, shivery silence before Ntilikina looked up, turned his head, and stared at the teammate who just stood up to one of the world’s best and most famous athletes on his behalf. “Thank you,” Ntilikina said, softly. Kanter nodded back. “No problem, my man. I’ve always got your back.” The room fell quiet once again. “Whatever happens,” Kanter said. “It’s us against the whole world.”

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